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Bhatti faces more contractor fraud charges

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BAKER - Authorities said more fraud charges have been filed against a man in Baker who investigators said made off with people's money after promising to fix up their homes.

Chief Mike Knaps said 63-year-old Tanweer Bhatti was arrested Wednesday on the new charges. Knaps previously said that Bhatti's victims were all retirees or widowers, and lost several hundreds of thousands of dollars to his big pitches which never materialized into work.

The Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors revoked the license for Bhatti's company, Southern Siding, a few months ago after Bhatti pleaded "no contest" to accusations of fraud and failing to fulfill contracts. Police said Bhatti was also doing work under another company's name.

"This man carries on like he's a normal citizen and doesn't have any issues like stealing from the elderly," Knaps said. "It's people like this that give our country a bad name sometimes."

The state Attorney General's Office also said they were looking into possible mortgage fraud charges involving Bhatti, and he faced similar charges in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Knaps said a 72-year-old woman came forward after Bhatti's previous arrest and said she paid him $29,000 for new windows that were never installed. Documents say that the victim told investigators that Bhatti was a "fast talker" and "very persistant" as he solicited home remodeling work.

The victim told police that she refinanced her house to cover the cost of the remodeling. She also said she recieved an unauthorized loan in her name for $20,000 that went directly to Bhatti. 

According to Knaps, there are also two warrants for Bhatti's arrest in St. James Parish. Baker Police said they are talking to investigators in Gonzales regarding similar cases there.

Including the previous cases, Bhatti is accused of committing 7 incidents of fraud in Baker since 2014.

Knaps asked that potential victims call the Baker Police Department at 225-775-6000.

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